Demand for Corn Drives Up Gas Prices, Spurs Ethanol Debate
There's reason to be thankful, Minnesota’s corn crop is looking better than most the country.
Corn prices have risen more than 50 percent in the last couple of months, "No doubt about it, most Minnesota farmers will have an excellent year" said Jason Hill, McKnight land-grand professor in the department of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota.
But what happens once the corn comes off the land is the topic of an intense debate right now.
Hill believes too much of it is being turned into ethanol, "If we are using half of our corn to produce enough fuel to offset maybe 5 percent of the gasoline we use. Then we need to rethink what really is a good national policy both for our energy independence, as well as food security."
U.S. law requires a certain amount of ethanol to be sold, and blended into gasoline.
All gasoline, not just the clearly marked "e-85" kind used for "flex vehicles" that you see around our state.
"They all have corn in it” quipped Jules Navarro, at Bobby & Steve’s Auto World in downtown Minneapolis.
The gas price experts behind the often Lundberg Survey can't say for certain how much of an increase we will see at the pump because of the rising corn prices.
But any increase is too much for drivers like Julie Aasen of Minneapolis, "I will drive 10 miles just to save a buck!"
The environmental protection agency has the power to change the amount of corn that is turned into ethanol.
And right now there are several groups -- and lawmakers appealing to President Obama to waive the ethanol requirement.
A White House spokesman said the President was "looking at" that possibility.